Comparison of neuronal selectivity for stimulus speed, length, and contrast in the prestriate visual cortical areas V4 and MT of the macaque monkey

J Neurophysiol. 1994 Jun;71(6):2269-80. doi: 10.1152/jn.1994.71.6.2269.


1. Prestriate area V4 and the middle temporal area (MT) compose the first stage in which the ventral and dorsal visual cortical pathways are segregated. To better known the functional dichotomy between the two pathways at this level, we recorded cell responses from V4 and MT using anesthetized, immobilized macaque monkeys and compared the selectivity for speed of stimulus motion and stimulus length and the sensitivity to luminance contrast between the two areas. 2. V4 cells were as selective as MT cells for speed. The sharpness of tuning was not different between the two populations. The optimal speed varied widely in both areas, but both of the two distributions showed peaks at 32 degrees/s. 3. V4 and MT cells were similar in that about one-half of the cells (45% in V4 and 48% in MT) showed inhibition by long (16 degrees) bars. However, V4 cells preferred stimuli whose lengths were distributed around the lengths of the receptive field, whereas an overwhelming majority of MT cells preferred stimuli whose lengths were much shorter than the lengths of the receptive field. 4. The cutoff contrast at which one-half the maximum response was elicited was distributed widely in both areas, and the two distributions considerably overlapped. MT cells as a whole, however, were slightly more sensitive to the luminance contrast than V4 cells. 5. There was a tendency toward local clustering for cells with similar speed preferences in MT but not in V4. Pairs of MT cells recorded within 400 microns had smaller difference in the optimal speed than that of cell pairs taken randomly from the whole sample of MT cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Macaca
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Size Perception / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology